How To

Improving The Doctor-Patient Relationship With mHealth

June 24, 2015 | Adam Turinas

At its best, communication failures cause delays in diagnosis and treatment. At its worst, patients’ health can rapidly deteriorate. A recent review of reports released by the Joint Commission found that communication failure between clinicians and patients is at the root of over 70 percent of serious adverse health outcomes in hospitals. For this reason, patient-clinician communication features are one of the most important factors that must be evaluated when selecting a mobile patient engagement app.

Here are 3 key features that patient engagement apps should include to effectively improve patient-clinician communication:


Improved access to care

One of the most important benefits patients look for in mobile apps is that it help improve their access to care. There are many ways to do this. At a minimum, they should allow patients to quickly search for and contact physicians. To maximize utility, these apps should also link to appointment booking and ER wait time tracking features. Once patients have identified a suitable facility or provider, they should be able to receive navigation assistance to the provider’s location and/or communicate with select members of the care team via the physician directory. In our view this is the bare minimum in what a patient engagement app should do.


Multi-channel communication

Patient engagement apps empower patients to safely engage in self management and behavioral change by providing two-way communication channels with clinicians. Apps that offer secure text messaging, voice communications, email, video and picture messaging to select or general patient populations are more likely to sustain prolonged engagement with the care process.


Special communication channels for care coordination

Patient engagement apps that are paired with mobile apps for coordinated care enable patients along with clinicians, home care aides, visiting nurses, and other care givers to pursue population health goals. Patient engagement apps that enable patients at high risk of or already suffering from chronic disease to communicate directly with care navigators bridge the communication gap between care teams and patients.

Direct communication channels should be activated for select, high risk populations to ensure clinicians can manage this increase in patient participation. In this way, patient engagement mobile apps allow high risk patients to engage in secure text messaging with care navigators who can then, as necessary, inform and call upon the greater clinical care team.

How else would you like patient engagement mobile apps to encourage patient-clinician communication? Share your ideas in the comments.

For those of you already in the evaluation process, this guide further outlines 40+ key features and functions that these apps should possess:


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